Dec 10, 2010
19
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Pre-Medical
I am very non-traditional. I have been a stay at home mom for the past 11 years. Now I am also a full time student. I have 4 kids. I have my applications in and two interviews at medicals schools this week. I am wondering about the idea of taking a portfolio with pictures of who I am. Things like one of the many wedding cakes I have made, cliff jumping at the lake, a family picture, a picture of my husband and I, and various other things that I have done- just maybe about 10 pics total. A friend at school did something like that, but with pictures of herself doing research and other professional pursuits, and took it to her interview with the same school I am going to. She thought they liked it, and actually she was accepted. Of course, being a mom has kept me from having much "professional" stuff to show. So do you think something like that would set me apart or just make me look silly?
 

DrMidlife

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Whatever you bring to present, don't bring anything that requires effort to absorb (no text). Spreading some large pics in front of you could be an interesting tactic. 10 would be about 6-7 too many, imho.

I like the wedding cake & the family pic. Stuff you've made.

Also, don't let the pictures distract you or your interviewers. Wait until they ask you what you do for fun or how your past achievements have prepared you for medicine.

Best of luck to you.
 

MCAT guy

...
May 24, 2010
2,058
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Other Health Professions Student
I am very non-traditional. I have been a stay at home mom for the past 11 years. Now I am also a full time student. I have 4 kids. I have my applications in and two interviews at medicals schools this week. I am wondering about the idea of taking a portfolio with pictures of who I am. Things like one of the many wedding cakes I have made, cliff jumping at the lake, a family picture, a picture of my husband and I, and various other things that I have done- just maybe about 10 pics total. A friend at school did something like that, but with pictures of herself doing research and other professional pursuits, and took it to her interview with the same school I am going to. She thought they liked it, and actually she was accepted. Of course, being a mom has kept me from having much "professional" stuff to show. So do you think something like that would set me apart or just make me look silly?
lol. No!

I think your desire stems from the biggest misunderstanding in interviewing. Interviews are not trying to find people who do special things. They are trying to find people they like.

I've had many successful interviews at this point, so I think there is some value to what I'm saying.

The simple strategy is to determine the qualities you uniquely have and that they want in a doctor, then try to display these in the interview. Maybe you are passionate or eccentric. They obviously like compassion and humility. I had a list of 8 qualities and focused on my 3 strongest ones. After you have this focus, you can just let the interview go wherever. They want to see you are relaxed, cool, and can look them in the eye.

My favorite advice about interviewing was from some fire fighters. They said, "When we interview, we're just trying to figure out if we can stand working with a guy all day, and if he is cool."

Think person, don't think actions. Your competence is shown in other parts of the application.

Who you are makes you special in the interview. Not what you do. There is an entire paper app with your activities.

The portfolio could backfire and be strange.
 
Last edited:
Nov 23, 2010
32
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I read an otherwise not terribly useful book about interviewing for med school, which made a really good core statement:
The main point of the interview is to determine, "Is this person one of us?"

Your aim is not to stand out too much from the other applicants, but to demonstrate that you "fit in" with the clinician archetype. Since bringing in pictures is not something applicants usually do in med school interviews, it might be ok to set yourself apart a bit, but I agree with Dr. Midlife - one or two photos is the max.

Also, I don't know if this is something worth considering, but do you think emphasizing your family too much is a bit risky? I was asked some questions such as, "What portion of your time do you think a clinician should devote to family vs. career", etc. I don't know if this is something that is asked mostly of female applicants, or if it's a concern in general, but I wonder whether schools want someone who is more career-oriented than family-oriented? I guess it would really depend on your interviewer.
 

DrMidlife

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Also, I don't know if this is something worth considering, but do you think emphasizing your family too much is a bit risky? I was asked some questions such as, "What portion of your time do you think a clinician should devote to family vs. career", etc. I don't know if this is something that is asked mostly of female applicants, or if it's a concern in general, but I wonder whether schools want someone who is more career-oriented than family-oriented? I guess it would really depend on your interviewer.
There's no right answer to any of this, and if they're raising it with women they need to raise it with men. I recommend emphasizing who is supporting you and how, and that you've put a great deal of thought into how to manage your family during school. By contrast, it would be bad to communicate that you think it's no big deal, or that you're expecting your classmates/faculty/admin to pick up your slack.

Kids are a given with med school slicing right up the middle of childbearing years. Anybody who still thinks it's weird for med students or residents to start families is bad at math.
 
Nov 17, 2010
51
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Temple, TX
Status
Medical Student
I've always been a fan of unique ideas to make someone stand out, but not so much that they can't fit in. Your family and all you've accomplished already is definitely something to be proud of, and since you got interviews, you obviously did something right. I like this idea to an extent. Bringing the photos with you could be good, but why not do it in a less formal way? Rather than bringing them in a portfolio, just having 2-3 photos on hand that really highlight who you are and why you'd be a good fit for medicine would be unique, but also remember that it can't look like you're reciting a prepared answer to their questions. The whole process should remain organic, and if you think the picture would force all of your answers along a certain path, then I wouldn't being them. If, on the other hand, you have photos that are more dynamic and could be used for multiple answers without seeming forced, I say go for it. The school you are interviewing at has apparently shown a predilection for the idea, so you never know! Good luck!
 

PostHaste

Eye Roller
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Jun 7, 2010
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I think a mini portfolio is a great idea, but remember to keep it relevant to the central non-trad tenants: "Why Medicine?" and "Why Now?" If your pictures help illustrate why you want to go into medicine, or why you've waited this long to do it, great. But you have to be careful that you don't pin yourself into some sort of Housewife stereotype. While your family is probably the most important thing in your life, don't make it seem as though they are the only thing.

I don't know if I'm coming across quite right. I'm a mom, too, I've got two little kids at home. I totally understand the pride and the eagerness to share your passions. I do worry about how it will come across to an interviewer in what is usually characterized as an old, conservative business. Last spring our (family-friendly) group of 4 engineers (2 men, 2 women, 27-45) were interviewing potential candidates. When one interviewee was asked what she did during the 18 month gap on her resume, her response was to pull out a picture of her toddler twins. She was dinged pretty heavily by the group not because she had kids or valued family, but because she failed to focus on what she did to make herself a better engineer during those 18 months. Now, if she had framed it as, "I volunteered with ASQ and audited advanced courses and helped my brother revamp his business model, all while being the primary caregiver for my twins [insert picture here, ooh-ing and aahhh-ing commences]," it might have been a different story.